How to capsulate the sound of Plax? They’re a mix of punk, post-punk, and garage. They feature members from OBN IIIs, Spray Paint, and Skeleton, so those influences seep in. You could compare them to Institute, who I do like, but Plax is much better. The songs are largely mid tempo with some jangly guitars, a propulsive bass, and drummer who knows there’s power being economical. “What a Waste” is a killer among killers that takes off right out the gate with the bass up in the mix, pushing the whole affair forward. “Mistake” is somewhat similar, and just as good. I like the confrontational tone of “Location,” but it’s the closer, “Mold,” that has me singing the praises of Plax. It’s a drawn-out song that is heavy in atmosphere. The guitar work is a-f’n number one primo. Great record! –Matt Average (Super Secret, supersecretrecords.com)
Coming out on the Super Secret label (Austin, TX) I had a feeling this’d be some gnarly, over the top stuff and it certainly is. Apparently the band is a supergroup of sorts (I hope someone thinks up another word for a supergroup someday…..I’m gonna head down to the lab and work on it myself) and have been together a little over a year. The solid lineup is Victor from Skeleton and Nosferatu, Michael and Marley from OBN IIIs (Marley is also in Sweet Talk), Chris from Spray Paint and Dikes of Holland and not sure if these four were born in the same hospital at the same time or not but they seem like they’ve been playing together longer than Jagger n’ Richards (Charlie too, can’t leave out Charlie). The songs are what matter here and Clean Feeling is full of the kinda music meant to be played while driving while blindfolded, chasing the cat around the house with the chain saw or driving a golf cart off a cliff. You know you’re gonna get hurt real bad (or worse) so you might as well have fun while doing it. Cut like “Boring Story,” “In a Web,” “Mistake” and “What a Waste” seem to hit that sweet spot right where Solger, the Pagans and the Germs all collide Oh, also vocalist Victor seems like the kinda guy you don’t want to have to deliver any bad news too (and if you do have to make sure you’re inside of a car (and he’s on the outside) so you can put the pedal to the metal and scram before he loses his shit). The name of the band is from the gunk that gets caked on your teeth. Ok, review over, I need a fresh glass of prune juice. I love Plax. www.supersecretrecords.com
Who: Austin-based quasi-punk band comprised of members of Spray Paint, OBN IIIs, Skeleton and Sweet Talk.
Sound: Clean Feeling may be the best indie-punk album of 2017. Twitchy and heavy in perfect doses.
TFN Final Take: Last year I fell head over heels in love with Austin’s Spray Paint. I started with their 2016 release, Feel the Clamps, and then worked my way through their catalog of no-wave punk. When I saw that PLAX had a former member of Spray Paint, I had to listen. Once song was all it took. I was hooked.
PLAX’s sound is quite dissimilar from Spray Paint. Clean Feeling is spastic and a bit disjointed too, but is a more of a straightforward hardcore/punk sound than Spray Paint. This album is 10 tracks of fast-paced power punk rhythms and unexpected shifts. Singer Victor Ziolkowski’s voice bears a striking similarity to Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage raspy delivery.
Mix those gruff vocals with the furious punk rock rampage and a pinch of unconventional shifts and arrangements and you have a brilliant and insanely catchy LP that soars and never bores. Nine of the 10 tracks clock in under 2 minutes and 30 seconds with the exception being the last track, “Mold.” “Mold” is 7 minutes of pure heaven. A nasty and fidgety rhythm dappled with snarling and anguished vocals all tied together underlying layer of cool synth. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been blasting this on my iPod and as soon as the track finishes, I play it again.
A few weeks ago I thought the debut of the year was a lock with Dove Lady’s album One. Now I am not too sure. Clean Feeling is about as good as you can get.
Clean Feeling (Super Secret)
REVIEWED BY LIBBY WEBSTER, FRI., SEPT. 1, 2017
Playing like a mess of raw knuckles, bloody lips, and bruised, broken noses, the debut from Austin punks Plax seethes with wounded aggression. A restless thrashing that times out under a half-hour, Clean Feeling is predominantly confrontational. Victor Ziolkowski more often than not screams at a “you,” his hoarse bark commonplace in the local quartet’s sinister world, even-keeled and monotone in its combative consistency. Steely and unwavering, his narrator serves as a foothold as the instrumentation explodes into chaos around him.
No song here reaches the three-minute mark save for seven-minute closer “Mold,” infusing the album with a brash, heightened intensity. Both “In a Web” and “Mistake” skew inward, the former riddled by anxiety and tangled in doubt, steered by a drumbeat like fists beating into your skull. “Mistake” wanders down the same path, getting one last fix for a chronicler who’s self-aware enough to loathe himself while doing it. “Location” features truly brutal drumming courtesy of Marley Jones from OBN IIIs, while Spray Paint’s Chris Stephenson brings signature unease to his angular guitar. OBN IIIs’ Michael Goodwin totes thrumming, punching basslines.
On the pulsating “Black and White,” a mere 50-second track bursting through the middle of the disc, the vocals remain steadfast in pacing, discernible and unrushed amidst a rapid, propulsive mania, which contrasts to “1×1” veering away from the breakneck pace of Clean Feeling, instead stopping and starting, slowly slogging forward as machinery beeps and whirrs to fill out the song.
“Each breath I take disappears,” insists Ziolkowski as the tense, gritty guitars and buzzing slowly overtake his voice.
The Cosmos is testing me. There is simply no other explanation as to why this is happening.
This reviewer is, frankly, a tepid consumer of Punk Rock. That’s just the be all end all of it. There are some Punk Rockers out there that shiver me to my very soul, but that list is very short.
Now today, we have Austin, TX based punk band, PLAX courtesy of the Super Secret Records imprint.
My lack of understanding Punk Music probably goes back to the 70’s when Punk and Metal refused to co-exist peacefully. Even when punk and metal joined into thrash…there was still strife. So perhaps, my aversion, my personal prejudice, et al is just in my blood….because it goes a long way back.
This is the third punk rock post in the past 7 days. At my personal anti-punk rock pace, that’s positively insane.
Please not that my personal preferences, if you will, have been laid out at the beginning of this post.
For any more of my goings on regarding punk rock, please see my published works with the tag, punk.
My favorite thing about punk rock is the lo-fi attitude to the sound. Most likely that’s just kind of like fashion born out of necessity, but it’s still something that’s lasted lo this many years.
Instead of creating a sound out of millions of pedals and a rig so complex one needs an electrical engineering degree in order to simply hook it up, punk rock often is just this is the guitar I could afford and this is the amp my cousin was willing to sell me for $30.
It would be…disingenuous to say that most punk bands have a tone all of their own, as well as saying many punks bands have their own sound. What, to a punk rock illiterate, they need, is their own feeling.
A good friend told me once that punk rock wasn’t music, but a form of expression all of its own. (He’s a huge fan for the record.) So, the lo-fi, the cheap equipment, the simple chord progressions, the lack of serious musicianship….all of these things matter less than how the band makes you feel.
PLAX isn’t in the upper echelon of punk rock musicians like X, Sonny Vincent, or Iggy Pop and the Stooges, but nor are the in the bottom with The Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Let’s put them in the upper middle with acts like Paul Collins.
The songs aren’t played at super speed, unless like an idiot you left the turntable on 45 RPM when you put it on…see video below….
Rather than unrestrained anger, PLAX gives us pleas for a better world. At least, that’s how this guy hears it. It’s hard for me to really explain to you what their music is.
It’s angry, but hopeful. Bitter, yet forward thinking. It’s simplistic, yet beautiful.
PLAX are a host of contradictions wrapped up in a 33 RPM disc.
This is a Super Secret Records release. The one thing about that is, I know it’s a quality, quality package. The disc is immaculate. There’s a download code and a nice inlay card.
The sound quality is immaculate, though it can be hard for me to tell when it’s punk rock. (“When I tell that joke, I always clarify that I’m just joking,” Mitch Hedberg.)
Super Secret Records puts out great music in a great, stripped down package.
Calling all European fans of Plax! The band are on tour right now across Europe to support their debut album, Clean Feeling. See them in a city near you! Dates include:
Aug 25 – Utrecht, NL @ DB’s
Aug 26 – Groningen, NL @ Vera
Aug 27 – Amsterdam, NL @ Garage Noord
Aug 29 – Hanover, DE @ Cafe Glocksee
Aug 31 – Torino, IT @ Blah Blah
Sept 2 – Jesi, IT @ Man Cave Cafe
Sept 4 – Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
Sept 5 – Nantes, FR @ Le Chien Stupide
Sept 6 – Paris, FR @ La Mécanique Ondulatoire
Sept 7 – Charleroi, BE @ Rockerill
Sept 8 – Tournai, BE @ Water Moulin
Sept 9 – Brussels, BE @ Chaff
Sept 12 – Liverpool, UK @ The Bagelry
Sept 13 – Derby, UK @ Hairy Dog
Sept 14 – London, UK @ The Brewhouse (London Fields)
Sept 15 – Antwerp, BE @ Antwerp Music City
Sept 16 – Rotterdam, NL @ TBA